Density estimation techniques for multiscale coupling of kinetic models of the plasma material interface

Shane Keniley, Davide Curreli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this work we analyze two classes of Density-Estimation techniques which can be used to consistently couple different kinetic models of the plasma-material interface, intended as the region of plasma immediately interacting with the first surface layers of a material wall. In particular, we handle the general problem of interfacing a continuum multi-species Vlasov-Poisson-BGK plasma model to discrete surface erosion models. The continuum model solves for the energy-angle distributions of the particles striking the surface, which are then driving the surface response. A modification to the classical Binary-Collision Approximation (BCA) method is here utilized as a prototype discrete model of the surface, to provide boundary conditions and impurity distributions representative of the material behavior during plasma irradiation. The numerical tests revealed the superior convergence properties of Gaussian Mixture Models over Kernel Density Estimation methods, with Gaussian Mixtures and Epanechnikov-KDEs both being up to two orders of magnitude faster than Gaussian-KDEs. The methodology here presented allows a self-consistent treatment of the plasma-material interface in magnetic fusion devices, including both the near-surface plasma (plasma sheath and presheath) in magnetized conditions, and surface effects such as sputtering, back-scattering, and ion implantation. The same coupling techniques can also be utilized for other discrete material models such as Molecular Dynamics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number108965
JournalJournal of Computational Physics
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020


  • Binary collision approximation
  • Density estimation
  • Gaussian mixture model
  • Kernel density estimation
  • Vlasov-Poisson equation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Numerical Analysis
  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Computational Mathematics
  • Applied Mathematics

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